The Night Beat: A New York Welcome For Obama

Obama In New York || BP "Gnaws" || The RGA's Massachusetts Money || Brentin Mock



WNBC's Jonathan Deinst is reporting that President Obama is expected at 1 Police Plaza tomorrow afternoon to thank the troops for their excellent response to the Times Square bombing attempt. This event is not on the White House schedule.

He may not be welcomed very warmly. The Department of Homeland Security provided a courtesy notification to lawmakers today about the latest round of homeland security grants.  The DHS' Transit Security Grant Program will give NYC $111 million, down 27% ($42 million). The Port Security Grant Program includes an additional $33.8 million, a cut of 25% ($11.2 million). Chuck Schumer and Peter King are outraged.

Now, these cuts were made before the Times Square attempt. They represent MORE money over zero. But the city uses the predictability of the funding stream to plan its budgets for the next year.  Tough choices have to be made; the DHS is giving out less money overall this year, and New York got money from the Recovery Act for security. That said, the nation's top target gets just over 11% of the funding. Because of Faisal Shahzad, the city itself decided not to cut 900 police officer positions. But it's cutting firehouses. (By the way: if the FDNY and urban policy interests you in any way, please read this book.) In any event, Obama's walking into something of a hail storm tomorrow, even if NYC is getting $47 million more in 2010 than in 2009.

Obama is said to be beyond livid at BP and about his government's own inability to contain and mitigate what he realizes is an environmental catastrophe of near unimaginable proportions. Says an official: "It gnaws at him." If you want to get as angry as POTUS, read this series of articles by Brentin Mock of TheLensNola. Problem is: there's really not much the administration can do, because its technical capacity is limited -- the tragedy is that big.  In the near term, expect more money and more people. Note: Rep. Henry Waxman hinted on MSNBC tonight that BP "may not survive" the combined financial/PR crisis that has resulted. ... The administration sent a letter to the Hill tonight asking for an oil spill supplemental, which would make more money available more quickly.

SecDef Robert Gates wants to kill funding for the spare engine for the F-35. But as of now, it's back in the budget. Co-developers General Electric and Rolls Royce had agreed to absorb more of the spending overruns. It remains to be seen how hard Gates will fight to kill this line item, which provides jobs in a large number of Congressional districts.

The first hearings about the new nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia take place next Tuesday, May 18.

Something big is supposed to happen in the Kentucky Senate race tomorrow, and I hear it involves a major endorsement for trailing Sec/State/establishment candidate Tray Grayson.

Sarah Palin travels to Washington, D.C., late tomorrow. She's speaking at the Susan B. Anthony List's annual event on Friday morning at the Reagan Building.

Four members of the Republican National Committee have signed on to a letter asking RGA chairman Haley Barbour why he's spending so much money in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race. (The RGA just upped its ad buy by $1 million.) Well, eight members signed originally, including Iowa's two RNC members. (Barbour has presidential ambitions.) Four, including the two Iowans, retracted, but not before a reporter got one of the them, social conservative activist Steve Scheffler, to call Barbour "toast" in Iowa. The RGA's thinking is fairly straightforward: it figures Republican Charlie Baker can win the race if independent candidate Tim Cahill drops below 10% in the polls. Cahill's political team whispers that the RNC's anti-Cahill ads have benefited Democratic incumbent Deval Patrick, who has shot up 16 points in the polls since the RGA went on the air.

Still, it's hard to argue with the RGA's record of success. It spent a good deal of money in New Jersey and Virginia in 2009, and it will have plenty of money to spend as the other races heat up. (The RGA is also spending money right now in Colorado.) Here's the language the two Iowans used to withdraw their names from the letter: "We are strong conservatives and signed a letter we initially thought would send a message of support for conservative candidates in our party. Upon further reflection, we understand this letter could be interpreted as meddling in the affairs of an independent Republican organization and we wish in no way to harm the efforts of the Republican Governors Association in the pursuit of its work."

Jane Harman, one of the Democratic leading lights on national security, has something less of a primary challenge on her hands than some pubs might lead you to believe. A May 10 Mellman Group (D) poll puts her 41 points ahead of her challenger, and she easily won a floor fight at the California Democratic Convention last month. The narrative that incumbents are in trouble doesn't seem apply in the 36th District just yet.

House Republican Whip Eric Cantor's YouCut initiative has received 15,000 suggestions so far, despite a heavy negative PR barrage from Democrats.

Don't be alarmed: there will be lots of unidentified aircraft flying over Washington, D.C., tomorrow night. NORAD and NORTHCOM are holding a training exercise, weather permitting. A NORAD release points out that it has notified the Capitol Police and the Secret Service, so there won't be any misunderstanding.

A D.C. mega-conference tomorrow: The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a full day of panels with all of its experts and numerous outside experts. The keynote will be delivered by Gen. James Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Here's the embed code in case you want to livestream:

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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